Trash: NPD is sort of like Attention Deficit Disorder. The terminology is getting tossed around a great deal but I think a vast, vast number of people would fit its criteria.
No, Narcissistic Personality Disorder or NPD has very precise criteria, but clinicians do screw it up. I really doubt if true NPD is overdiagnosed. It is not an extremely common disorder. However, much has been written about how we are becoming more narcissistic as a society. That may be true, but that doesn’t mean we are in an NPD epidemic.
My last therapist told me I was a narcissist – not NPD but narcissistic traits. This took me aback because I am not real fond of these types. They really rub me the wrong way and mostly they are just too much. I have one in my family and he has been known on many occasions to not be a very unpleasant person. There is a real ugly and nasty side to this disorder when it gets bad. They truly do not care about you, are not interested in you at all, and they can be very mean and cruel. Not that they care about that either. Of course they are also utterly clueless.
My best therapist has told me that I am not a narcissist. He said I am self-centered, but that’s more of a case of being all wrapped up in my own stuff to think about others much rather than being selfish. It’s related to my OCD and a lot of OCD’ers are pretty much all wrapped up in their own stuff. This is often confused with narcissism, but it’s not the same thing. It’s more like solipsism. I admit I am pretty solipsistic. It’s not that I don’t care about others. I do, but I am so wrapped up in myself all the time that I do not have a lot of energy left over for others.
He also told me that I have high self esteem. This could also be called high narcissism if you believe that narcissism = self-esteem. In that case, low narcissism would be low self-esteem. However, high narcissism in the sense of high self esteem, though it may seem a bit much, and such folks are often conceited, vain and egotistical, is considered healthy in that generally empathy is fairly well preserved. It is typically considered to be a sign of good mental health. Personally, I think everyone should have high narcissism or high self esteem. Why not? What’s wrong with everyone thinking they are great? How is that bad?
The problem is that people keep going beyond high narcissism all the way into pathological narcissism or NPD. The problem here is that now self esteem has gone so high that as it gets higher and higher, one cares less and less about and has less and less empathy for others. To put it briefly, at some point, the more you love yourself, the less you love others. I am not sure why that is, but perhaps there is only so much love available in a human.
Also at some point, self esteem gets so high that you feel better than or superior to others. This tends to coincide with low empathy. I don’t claim to fully understand narcissism as it is an extremely complex subject. I have been studying it deeply for over a decade now, and it still doesn’t really make complete sense to me, but that’s typical of a lot of mental issues. I’ve also been studying sociopaths for most of my life, and they still don’t make sense to me. I can’t for the life of me see how anyone could be like that. To me they don’t make sense.